Stress in Alpacas

February 11, 2021 11:53 PM | Richard & Andrea Hammersley


What causes stress in Alpacas?

Factors can include: birthing, heat, cold, changes in diet, moving, shows, isolation, new animal introductions, parasites, over handling, breeding, weaning, shearing, public events.

Most alpacas are pretty resilient but occasionally an alpaca reacts to one or more of these stressors. Alpacas tend to not show when they are stressed immediately but can easily hide it.  It is important that you know the normal habits and behaviors of your animals. With observation you should be able to prevent or stop the stress from affecting their health.

What are some signs of stress?

Diarrhea, Shivering, Drooling, Lethargy, Abortion, Fiber Break, Spitting, Open-Mouth Breathing, Raised Tail, Reluctance to Move, Droopy Lower Lip, Stiffness due to Muscle soreness, Heart Rate increased 20-25%, loss of coodination, increased vocalization, pacing, attempting to get away from a situation, turning away from the public in an event, trying to hide.

When you notice signs of stress, immediately attempt to remove the stressor or the stressful situation even if it means leaving a public event.  Continuing to allow the animal to be stressed will impact its future health.

 In the case of heat stress, it is important to get the core temperature into the normal range 99.5-102 degrees F.  You may use fans to lower temperature, ice packs in the armpits, a cool hosing on its underneath side, move the animal out of the sunlight and into a cooler area.  Giving the alpaca a probiotic or cool water with electrolytes is helpful. If your alpaca is down, call the vet immediately.

                                    Temperature (F) + % Humidity

Less than 120                                                          No Problem

150 (ex 90deg +60% humidity)                           Caution No Extra Activity

Greater than 180                                                    Danger: Observe Closely


The basics to prevent stress is to prevent it in the first place.  If it is extremely hot out and you need to do breeding or move animals do so in the early morning or evening before it gets hot out.  Know what is normal for your animals and observe them on a regular basis.  If you animal is not halter trained and you attempt to take them to an event where they have to walk from a trailer to a pen it will be very stressful on that animal to do so.  If they are not used to loud noises/children/public events, then don’t take that animal.  If it is a multiple day event see if you can trade animals out daily so that they get a break from all the action. During the winter, have coats ready in case your older animals need them. Consider blocking off part of a shelter entrance to prevent cold wind from coming in to the shelter. Extra extra large dog coats work well, or in an emergency an old blanket/jacket/bubble wrap duct taped on can work as well. 




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